Improving resource management and capacity planning is a priority for most PMOs. For good reasons: the effectiveness of resource allocation directly correlates with an organization’s efficiency and competitiveness.
The PMO or Portfolio Manager needs to assign a limited and typically fixed pool of resources in the way that will achieve maximum delivery output and business value. At stake is the organization’s ability to compete effectively and to adapt rapidly to market changes in order to support growth in revenue, customer satisfaction, market shares, productivity, and overall efficiency.
Success depends on your ability to allocate the right resources to the highest-value projects, while having them work at the optimal utilization rate. This comes with its share of challenges:
- How to build relevant teams and mobilize the right resources quickly?
- How to optimize resource utilization in order to maximize value from labor expenses?
- How to forecast future work demand and resource capacity in order to be proactive in balancing demand and supply?
- How to track shifts in resource requirements and capacity over time and course-correct if needed?
The PMOs equipped with a focused PPM tool boasting great resource management capabilities will find it much easier to be up to these challenges. Here is why and how.
Enhanced visibility for better resource allocation
Good management requires clarity. The PMOs looking to improve their project resource management should start with making sure they enjoy perfect visibility on all available resources.
A PPM platform will consolidate all resource data (staff and productive assets) in a single place, increasing visibility for project and resource managers to build solid, skill-based teams. Data should include resource attributes (like role, skills, organization/function), and availability (who is working on what).
To identify and secure the right resources, with the right skills, you need solution capabilities to:
- Aggregate resources and categorize them by role, search and filter them by a variety of attributes (including skills, job classification, location, and more);
- Perform hard (named) as well as generic resource assignments – which can be stored to facilitate reuse and review;
- And, of course, check resource availability at a glance, instantly identifying the other assignments that a resource might have so that Project Managers can negotiate over the booking if needed.
A resource-oriented project portfolio management tool should also include workflows for project managers to build teams and request resources, and for resource managers to approve project manager resource requests and allocate resources to a project, with communication and collaboration features to support the process and decisions.
Belgian health care center ISoSL needed a centralized repository providing an up-to-date overview of IT resource utilization. This enhanced visibility was needed to improve capacity planning, to optimize project management at a portfolio level, and to prevent projects from being delayed indefinitely. Improved visibility in Sciforma led to a dramatic step up in project activities, while achieving greater performance against deadlines and financial goals.
Streamlining resource utilization for improved efficiency
Once you have identified the right project teams, you need to make sure you optimize the allocation and use of resources. Putting to work unutilized or underutilized resources will boost productivity and enable the PMO to complete more projects for a given level of investment. It is just as important to keep talents from being overburdened in order to prevent stress or even burn-out, and to avoid project roadblocks due to resource conflicts escalating as result of poor dependency management.
A project management tool with good resource planning capabilities provides control mechanisms to balance in-bound work demand with available resource supply at the program or portfolio level. Your PPM platform should also give you the ability to analyze dependencies and resolve resource assignment conflicts across multiple projects. Another must-have is the ability to create and simulate various scenarios to optimize resource utilization.
The following tool functionalities will further help optimize project and portfolio staffing:
- Resource utilization heat maps to identify underutilized and overworked resources for in-flight and planned projects;
- A system supporting the use of different types of assignment: fixed rate, fixed duration, fixed effort;
- The ability to assign and track uniform and non-uniform resources hours/utilization across multiple projects.
Last but not least, support for Gap Analysis reporting between requests/allocations and allocations/assignments will enable more granular analysis.
Faurecia is one of the largest automotive suppliers worldwide. Sciforma has provided the company with a systematic approach to manage and plan the work of globally distributed teams. More in-depth understanding of resource requirements and capacity, along with advanced conflict resolution functionalities, have helped the company improve staff coordination across locations.
Better forecasting and better tracking for long-term optimization of resource management
PMOs can and should try to predict what the future holds. As process-minded, fact-oriented professionals, they’ll use data instead of a crystal ball or coffee grounds. When it comes to resource management, a PMO needs the ability to assess future work requirements and capacity, and plan accordingly. Proper resource planning makes it possible to anticipate the capacity, and, therefore, to better prioritize projects and/or to plan for the required capacity adjustments ahead of time.
Dedicated tool features will streamline capacity planning activities by offering standard, pre-set project models that can be used to assign default deadlines, milestones, and resource requirements to a project. Real-time resource forecasting views and reports provide visibility into the future about where resources are likely to be over or under allocated, enabling stakeholders to make better and faster decisions to hire more resources, defer, approve or cancel projects.
Great resource allocation at the initial planning stage is not all. Projects and resource availability might shift and evolve, so PMOs need the ability to analyze and track resource utilization over time. Resource allocation needs to be revisited throughout the life cycle of projects, especially when the resource needs have evolved.
To that end, the tool you use to manage resources should provide quick resource allocation snapshots, with audit trail capabilities. It should also give you the ability to replace a resource by another (i.e. team member leaving the organization) across multiple tasks, while the actual effort vs remaining effort is maintained automatically.
Cooperative company EURIAL, the milk division of AGRIAL, has vastly improved resource planning and management thanks to Sciforma. Projects used to be selected and initiated without consideration of the potential impacts on the rest of the portfolio; now, the tool is used to forecast in-bound work demand. With enhanced visibility on actual and forecasted resource requirements, EURIAL’s busy IT Service can now assess and anticipate capacity needs.
To take your Resource Management to the next level, make sure you have the right tool!
So, talent and resource management is key for an organization to achieve business goals, maximize value and impact, and develop long-term competitiveness.
But successfully optimizing project resource allocation and utilization is a delicate balancing act – one that requires the support of flawless visibility and of robust analysis, tracking and forecasting capabilities. And this is what the right PPM platform will bring you.
For more details on what you could get from a PPM tool like Sciforma, download our Solution Framework on resource and capacity management.